Chikungunya not as dangerous
For the first time since 1969, the fear of Chikungunya
has gripped the country, as a number of mysterious deaths and cases
of symptoms similar to this viral fever are being reported from
several parts of the country.
Epidemiology Unit’s Director General Dr.
Paba Palihawadane commenting on Chikungunya said it was difficult
to differentiate it from Dengue.
“Both viral infections have similarities
when it comes to the mosquito and symptoms. There are times when
Chikungunya is misdiagnosed as Dengue. But the effect of Chikungunya
is milder than that of Dengue,” she said.
According to Dr. Palihawadane the main symptoms
are fever, rash and pain in the joints. The rash typically appears
on the first day of the illness. The other symptoms include headache,
photophobia, fatigue, nausea and vomiting and sore throat.
“Chikungunya is not a dangerous infection
and there are no specific antiviral cure or vaccines. A patient
needs lots of rest, fluids and paracetamol to relieve symptoms of
fever and pain in the joints,” she said.
Chikungunya is transmitted by Aedes aegypti (the
dengue mosquito), a daytime biter and primary vector in the CHIKV
infection. Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito) too carries
the infection to humans. These mosquitoes become infected when they
feed on a person infected with CHIKV. Infected mosquitoes can then
spread the virus to other humans when they bite.
Dr.Palihawadane said the preventive methods are
the same as for Dengue. They include using mosquito repellents,
coils, nets and
wearing protective clothing. The most important
factor is to get rid of mosquito-breeding sites, especially discarded
tyres, plastic containers, coconut shells, blocked gutters, bird
baths and flower pots where there is a possibility of rain water
A person suffering from Chikungunya fever should
avoid exposure to mosquito bites to avoid further spreading of the
infection. The person must stay indoors or under a mosquito net.
“Blood samples taken from suspected patients
have been sent to Thailand for verification and further analysis”
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry is conducting public
awareness programmes on basic prevention methods while providing
hospitals with guidelines on treatment.
Dr.J.Madan of the Kalmunai Base Hospital said
that more than 100 suspected patients had been admitted to hospital.
“The patients were suffering from fever
and joint pains. But the diagnoses have not been confirmed. Patients
Ward 2 and 4 have been allocated only for patients with suspected
symptoms of Chikungunya.
Preventive methods are the same as for Dengue.
- using mosquito repellents, coils, nets and wearing
- Getting rid of mosquito-breeding sites, especially
discarded tyres, plastic containers, coconut shells, blocked gutters,
bird baths and flower pots where there is a possibility of rain